Flour Girl: Gilding the Berry
Huge red strawberries beckon from the produce aisle almost year-round these days. But they usually disappoint: Shapely, but not so much flavor.
I missed the height of strawberry season at the farmers markets. Perhaps that's why I was recently seduced by the specimens in clamshell packs at the supermarket. They came with organic promises yet fell short of wonderful.
When I got them home, however, the heavens parted and I had a blinding moment of brilliance: cream cheese frosting! I just happened to have some left over from a batch of cupcakes. The cavernous hollows inside every overgrown berry suddenly had the purpose of cradling sweet cream.
Here's what to do: Wash the berries. Hull them, plus any attached "innards." Put the frosting in a pastry bag or in a resealable plastic food storage bag, with one bottom corner snipped off. Squeeze frosting into each berry, ending with a little dollop on top.
You've got concentrated strawberries and cream; each bite is the perfect balance of fruity-juicy and smooth-sweet. The filled berries are an easy snack for a tea party or a romantic night in. If you'd like to gild the already-gilded berries, you can dip them in dark chocolate. The recipe follows....
-- Leigh Lambert
Makes about 50 filled strawberries
MAKE AHEAD: The filling should be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before serving. It can be prepared and refrigerated a week or two in advance.
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces confectioners' sugar (generous 1 3/4 cups; sifted, if desired)
2 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled and cored
Combine the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, if using, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Reduce the speed to low; gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large resealable plastic food storage bag; press as much air out as possible, then seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Alternatively, a pastry bag can be used, with 1/4-inch tip.)
Just before serving, snip off a bottom corner of the plastic bag with the frosting (no larger than 1/4 inch). Open the top of the bag slightly to twist the bag and press the filling through the corner hole. Fill each strawberry with frosting. Serve immediately.
NUTRITION | Per serving (based on 2 filled berries): 72 calories, 1 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 14 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar
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